Australian inbound tour operators facing job losses and business closures from corona virus threat

Published on : Saturday, March 7, 2020

An Australian Tourism Export Council (ATEC) survey has found that inbound tour operators (ITO) are facing a lot of job losses and business closures if corona virus Covid-19 continues its damage.


Bushfires already brought in a lot of sufferings for the country’s travel sector this past summer, and now the Covid-19 outbreak has led to a travel ban on China from where more than $12 billion were injected to the Australian economy last year.


There is also a travel ban on Iran and yesterday, the Australian government extended the ban to South Korea, which now has more than 6,000 cases of the virus.


Traffic statistics from Sydney Airport (ASX: SYD) show that South Koreans were the seventh largest group of travelers moving through the airport, while Chinese nationals (including Hong Kong) were second after the Australians.


The situation has led to an alarming outlook for the sector.


“We are seeing dramatic contractions in forward bookings across all markets, with China 100 per cent down and apprehension from other Asian markets that are still able to travel,” said ATEC managing director Peter Shelley.


“Many Australian ITOs have not been paid for services provided over the Chinese New Year period as most China based travel wholesalers have had to shut their offices due to the virus. On top of that they are also facing severe financial difficulties as China outbound travel ground to an abrupt halt,” Shelley added.


The council is urging the government to extend business support and recovery packages including concessional loans, short term wage subsidies and a reduction in taxes, along with efforts to preserve the tourism industry ecosystem followed by “investment in aviation and destination marketing to help drive a recovery into the future”.


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